homebuzz News

Jaipur Literature Festival: Devotees of the written word throng the 'Kumbh Mela' of literature

Jaipur Literature Festival: Devotees of the written word throng the 'Kumbh Mela' of literature

Jaipur Literature Festival: Devotees of the written word throng the 'Kumbh Mela' of literature
Profile image

By Faizal Khan  Jan 28, 2019 6:46:55 AM IST (Published)

On the opening day of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) this week, celebrated feminist icon Germaine Greer spent most of her time on the stage answering questions about her controversial comments on rape and the #MeToo movement. In a heated session on the hallowed front lawns of the Diggi Palace venue of the festival, Greer defended her statements calling for lenient sentences for rapists and questioning the efficiency of the #MeToo movement.

On the opening day of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) this week, celebrated feminist icon Germaine Greer spent most of her time on the stage answering questions about her controversial comments on rape and the #MeToo movement. In a heated session on the hallowed front lawns of the Diggi Palace venue of the festival, Greer defended her statements calling for lenient sentences for rapists and questioning the efficiency of the #MeToo movement. Ironically, the session, Beyond the Female Eunuch, had borrowed its title from Greer's path-breaking book, a seminal work in the second wave of feminism more than half-a-century ago.

Recommended Articles

View All

Feminist icon Germaine Greer in conversation with British journalist-author Bee Rowlatt on the opening day of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
The session starring Greer, resembling more of an inquisition than a conversation, reflected the anxiety and tensions in the contemporary society facing racism, bigotry, hatred for migrants, refugee crisis, terrorism, gender inequality and poverty. Greer stood her ground, defending comments made at the Hay literary festival and interviews last year. "It is our degraded sexual relations and failure to respect each other," said Greer about rape while referring to the Nirbhaya gangrape in 2012. She continued her criticism of the #MeToo movement, saying it would only help in getting "free publicity" for some people like American actor Rose McGowan, one of the leading voices of the movement.
Future of World
The 12th edition of JLF, coming after its focus on Trump's America and a world of post-truth in 2017 and intolerance in India last year, aims at understanding the future of the world in the face of climate change and technological progress like Aritificial Intelligence. In a departure from tradition, the keynote address this year was delivered not by a writer, but a scientist. Tamil Nadu-born molecular biologist Venki Ramakrishnan, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009, joined British poet Ruth Padel in charting a direction for the famous festival, attended by half a million people every year.
Jaipur Literature Festival founders Sanjoy Roy (extreme left) and Namita Gokhale (fourth from left) with Nobel laureate Venki Ramakrishnan (sixth from left) at the inaugural ceremony of the festival on January 24.
"Science is more important than ever in today's world," said Ramakrishnan, who likened the pursuit of knowledge to the search for beauty in the arts. "Science in the pursuit of knowledge is also a thing of beauty, right down to the atomic and sub-atomic particles," he said while warning against taking science for granted. "We are all born scientists because of our curiosity as children. But we lose that curiosity when we take science for granted," he added.
Molecular biologist Venki Ramakrishnan, who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2009, delivered the keynote address of the 12th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival held in the Pink City from January 24 to January 28.
Participating in the festival along with their famous literary counterparts like the Booker Prize-winning Yann Martel and Ben Okri, Pulitzer winner Colson Whitehead, Call Me By Your Name author Andre Aciman, and Trainspotting author Irwine Welsh are Indian-American astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, Australian scientist Darryl Jones, compatriot and Artificial Intelligence scientist Toby Walsh and conservationists like Rom Whitaker, the founder of Madras Snake Park. There is also American environmental entrepreneur Marcus Moench and Mridula Ramesh, a leading investor in clean technology startups.
According to the festival organisers, about 100,000 books are sold during the five-day event.
Australian scientist Jones, whose research is in exploring the many ways that human beings interact with nature, uses the example of feeding wild birds to explain the importance of sustainability. In his new book, The Birds at My Table: Why We Feed Wild Birds and Why It Matters, Jones says in many parts of the world, the feeding of wild birds is an important way to connect with nature. "These are not pets or captives, but free animals who choose to visit people in their own homes. This has been found to be extremely beneficial for human wellbeing," he says while referring to bhuta yajna, an ancient practice of bird feeding in India. Walsh, nicknamed the ‘rock star’ of Australia’s digital revolution, stresses on awareness about Artificial Intelligence and the race for autonomous weapon systems. Walsh's 2017 book, 2062: The World that AI Made, talks of the new world of robotics and the terrifying future of killer robots.
Art of Writing
A masterclass in writing was delivered on the second day of JLF on Friday by Okri, Indian-American Vikram Chandra, Pulitzer winner Andrew Sean Greer and Indian-American Tania James in a session, Where Does Fiction Come From? "Writing is a discipline," said Okri, the Nigerian-born poet and author of the Booker-winning The Famished Road. "After some time, writing is not about your brain, but your hand connecting with the inside of your body," offered Okri, who explained that the craft of short story writing vastly differed from that of writing a novel.
Poet-lyricist and director Gulzar (centre) with his filmmaker-daughter Meghna Gulzar (right) at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
"I am jealous of those who can write a short story in one sentence," said Chandra, whose 2006 gangster drama Sacred Games -  now a Netflix sensation in India - is over 900 pages. Chandra said he hates using the word 'luminosity' while for Okri it was 'and'. Greer, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction last year for his comic novel Less, didn't care much for mentors. Okri, though, liked how his writer-friend said "the best part of it wasn't there" when he showed him a poem. "He said it without mentioning whether the poem was good or bad." When it comes to a writer's superstition, Okri doesn't like talking about his next novel. "Writers are superstitious because we talk about mysteries of life," he added.
American author Colson Whitehead, who won the Pultizer Prize for Fiction in 2017 for The Underground Railroad, at a session of the festival.
American author Colson Whitehead, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Underground Railroad, a surreal drama about slavery in 19th century America, said he wasn't worried about writing on a subject handled by many celebrated writers before him. "Somebody smarter than you has done it doesn't mean you shouldn't do it," said Whitehead, who tells the story of a young black slave, Cora, in The Underground Railroad. "There is heroism in running. There is also heroism in staying and looking after your family," he said referring to the escape of Cora's mother in the book. The festival, which will run up to January 28, will also witness sessions by the famous sculptor Anish Kapoor and celebrated British visual artist Marc Quinn. Among the major Indian authors speaking at the JLF sessions are Tamil writer Perumal Murugan and Anita Nair.
Check out our in-depth Market Coverage, Business News & get real-time Stock Market Updates on CNBC-TV18. Also, Watch our channels CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz and CNBC Bajar Live on-the-go!

Top Budget Opinions

    Most Read

    Market Movers

    View All
    Top GainersTop Losers
    CurrencyCommodities
    CompanyPriceChng%Chng